FanDuel Daily Fantasy Football Preseason Helper: Thursday 8/31/17
Football is back -- sort of.
It's the preseason, and FanDuel is offering up some DFS slates. You might be thinking that preseason DFS isn't for you, but really, you can have success if you're tuned into the news and expected workloads for players.
At the very least, it'll give you a reason to tack on an extra four weeks to your football-viewing season.
Here's what you should know for tonight's massive 16-game slate. (Note: in the preseason, all FanDuel salaries are $6,000.)
Brandon Allen, Jacksonville Jaguars ($6,000) -- Brandon Allen has been impressive this preseason, throwing for 251 yards on 27 attempts for 2 touchdowns and zero picks. In the Jacksonville Jaguars' final game of the preseason last year, Allen played 100% of the snaps and turned 26 pass attempts into 164 yards and a couple of scores. He knows what a big opportunity he has to showcase his skill-set tonight, as he likely will play the entire game again. Unless word comes out that Blake Bortles or Chad Henne will see time, Allen appears poised to be one of the strongest quarterback plays on the slate.
Joe Webb, Carolina Panthers ($6,000) -- Joe Webb also saw 100% of his team's snaps in this game last season, which, unfortunately, resulted in a somewhat disappointing 200 yards and no touchdowns. There were some encouraging takeaways from that game, however, such as the 29 passes the Carolina Panthers allowed Webb to chuck. While his stat line was disappointing in that game, Webb has shown the ability to put up quality preseason numbers: over six games in the past two seasons, he's totaled 667 passing yards and a 6-to-1 touchdown-to-interception ratio, with 73 rushing yards to boot. He was forced to miss last week's game with a neck issue, but returned to practice this week and should be looking at plenty of playing time tonight.
Kyle Sloter, Denver Broncos ($6,000) -- Last season, the Denver Broncos played Paxton Lynch 100% of the snaps in this game. Well, he's hurt this time around, as is backup Chad Kelly, so Denver is left with just Trevor Siemian and Kyle Sloter as their healthy quarterback options. It's highly unlikely they'll risk injury to their starting signal caller, so don't be surprised if Sloter plays all four quarters. Sloter has averaged an impressive 9.6 yards per attempt this preseason, totaling 193 yards and 2 touchdowns on 20 attempts. He's in play based on his near-guaranteed volume.
Nate Sudfeld, Washington Redskins ($6,000) -- All eyes in Washington will be on Sudfeld in this one, who is expected to play the entire game for the Redskins. However, it is worth noting that the 2016 sixth-round pick played this entire game last season and was only able to total 72 passing yards on 18 pass attempts. While Sudfeld does have an unblemished ratio of 3 touchdowns to zero picks over the past two years of preseason action, he has yet to eclipse 100 passing yards in a game, averaging a measly 4.9 yards per attempt. His upside seems capped, but he does provide a decent floor based on his volume.
Terrell Watson, Pittsburgh Steelers ($6,000) -- Terrell Watson has been one of the most impressive Pittsburgh Steelers during training camp and preseason action, potentially earning himself a spot on the roster. His performance in this game will go a long way in solidifying that roster spot. Pittsburgh gave 53% of the snaps to their fourth-string back in this game last season, and it wouldn't be surprising to see them ride Watson similarly. He has totaled 126 yards on 22 touches this preseason, good for a 5.7 yard average, and his 240-pound frame makes him a threat in the red zone.
Jeremy McNichols, Tampa Bay Buccaneers ($6,000) -- The talented fifth-round selection for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers has struggled this preseason, and finds himself in danger of being cut. Tampa head coach Dirk Koetter said, "He’s going to play a lot on Thursday night and he’s going to get one final chance to show what he can do,” so not only will we likely get a heavy dose of McNichols, but we also have a little bit of a narrative street situation going. McNichols has breakaway speed (4.49 40-time), and playerprofiler.com has his best player comparison as Melvin Gordon, so the athleticism is clearly there. He's an exciting play and is viable in all formats tonight.
Tra Carson, Cincinnati Bengals ($6,000) -- The Cincinnati Bengals played just two backs in this game last season, giving 44% of the snaps to their fourth-string back and 56% to the fifth-stringer. That appears likely to be the case once again this time around, with Jeremy Hill, Giovani Bernard, and Joe Mixon all having clear-cut roles. With Cedric Peerman on the IR, the bulk of the running back snaps are left for Tra Carson and Jarveon Williams. Williams massively out-snapped Carson last week, who played just three snaps all game. Williams turned his 10 carries into just 26 yards, however, so it wouldn't be surprising to see the Bengals give Carson more looks in this game. All that said, either Cincinnati back is a roll of the dice.
Elijhaa Penny, Arizona Cardinals ($6,000) -- The Arizona Cardinals viewed this game as nothing more than an obligation last season, taking a conservative run-heavy approach in an attempt to escape injury-free. They played their fourth- and fifth-string backs the entire game, giving them 19 and 23 attempts, respectively. Elijhaa Penny was the one with the 23 carries, which he turned into 113 yards and a touchdown. He has struggled this preseason, averaging just 2.5 yards per attempt, but has shown enough on special teams to be in a real position to make the squad despite a a crowded backfield. If the way the Cards handled this game last season is any indication, Penny should be looking at a large workload tonight.
Austin Carr, New England Patriots ($6,000) -- Carr's chances of making the New England Patriots roster dramatically improved last week when Julian Edelman went down with a torn ACL, but he'll still need to ball out tonight to solidify that spot. That has been no problem for the rookie thus far, who has 11 catches for 105 yards and a score in his first three games. He is one of the strongest receiver plays on the slate.
Jace Billingsley, Detroit Lions ($6,000) -- Billingsley has played well enough this preseason to put himself in position to make the roster, but a big game tonight would to help his cause. The Detroit Lions showed willingness to ride receivers they want to get a good look at in this game last season, playing three wide outs over 50% of the snaps, including a whopping 96% snap count for Jay Lee, who is no longer on the roster. Billingsley led all receivers that game with 7 catches on 8 targets for 80 yards and a score. He profiles as a strong play once again.
Keelan Cole, Jacksonville Jaguars ($6,000) -- Dede Westbrook is the Jacksonville pass-catcher with whom daily fantasy nerds have fallen in love this preseason, but the fourth-round burner might not play in this one, which would potentially pave the way for a starring role for Keelan Cole. Cole isn't the athlete Westbrook is, but he has shown a chemistry with Brandon Allen this preseason, catching 5 passes for 132 yards and a touchdown. However, he has also struggled with drops over the past couple weeks, which could put him on the roster bubble if he doesn't have a good game tonight. He is a boom-bust tournament option, as is Westbrook if he suits up.
Taywan Taylor, Tennessee Titans ($6,000) -- Taywan Taylor has really impressed this preseason, enough so that his playing time could be in question in the fourth preseason game. Fortunately, the Tennessee Titans are deep at receiver, so Taylor is a bit further down the depth chart than his ability would suggest. Be sure to keep an eye on Tennessee's inactives leading up to the game on Twitter, because if Taylor is active, he will be one of the most talented receivers to see significant action on this slate.
Sean Culkin, Los Angeles Chargers ($6,000) -- With Jeff Cumberland and Sean McGrath both out this preseason, Sean Culkin has had every chance to make the roster as the third-string tight end. Ultimately, he profiles more as a blocker, but Culkin has caught at least two passes in every preseason game thus far. He should get plenty of playing time tonight and is about as "safe" of a tight end option as you'll find in a Week 4 preseason NFL game.
Gavin Escobar, Kansas City Chiefs ($6,000) -- Following a strong training camp, Gavin Escobar came into this preseason as a favorite to make the team as the last tight end on the Kansas City Chiefs roster, but he has been outshined by fellow pass-catching option Ross Travis. Another issue is that he isn't as versatile as Orson Charles, meaning this game could be his last chance to show he deserves a spot. In a similar situation last season, James O'Shaughnessy saw 58% of the snaps and 4 targets for Kansas City. Escobar is a risky option, but as a big red zone target, does have touchdown upside.
Bucky Hodges, Minnesota Vikings ($6,000) -- Hodges has made the most of his opportunities this preseason, catching 3 passes for 67 yards and a touchdown. The sixth-round pick has elite athleticism for someone of his size (6'6" and 260 pounds), running a 4.57 40-yard dash, which puts him in play as one of the only tight ends with breakaway ability. If you're throwing darts at tight ends, why not throw one at a physical freak with big-play ability?
Choosing the correct kicker on a full slate of Week 4 preseason games is a tough task. Your best bet is probably to focus on kickers who have no competition on their team, and are doing their booting in domes. On today's slate, the list of such kickers includes Justin Tucker and Adam Vinatieri. Blair Walsh is another worth considering, as the Seattle Seahawks have one of the highest implied team totals on the slate and he has no competition for opportunities.
Week 4 can get wacky real quick with third- and fourth-string defenders starting across the board, but there are still some units that stand out as excellent on-paper plays. One would be the Philadelphia D/ST, who will face a New York Jets offense led by Christian Hackenberg and the potentially hobbled Bryce Petty. Another strong play is the Detroit D/ST, who will take on a Buffalo Bills team without injured quarterbacks Tyrod Taylor and T.J. Yates. There's always the possibility the Bills could sit Nathan Peterman for precautionary reasons, which would leave Keith Wenning, who signed with the team on Monday, to play the majority of the game. That sounds like a Wenning formula for the Detroit Lions to me. I'll see myself out.